My turn to review Hooten and The Lady having coincided – not entirely unintentionally – with what I thought would be the “week where they dress up in evening wear, pretend to be a couple and get all handsy in the process,” I was expecting quite a lot of light-hearted flirtatious fun from this episode. Just my luck then that I got the “dress up in evening wear” part but none of the rest of it; instead, our leads barely even look at each other in their finery, and this week’s instalment, quite unexpectedly, turns into something much more serious than the show has hitherto given any sign of intending to be.
It starts off cheerfully enough, in Russia, with the improbably-named Ulysses Hooten meeting up with his equally improbably-named friend Hercules Rudin, an old, wily thief who claims – apparently truthfully – to have tracked down the legendary 51st Faberge Egg, with the Sanguinary itself (ie the blood of the last Russian royal family) secreted inside. Now, ever since I watched Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna as a little girl, I’ve had something of a fascination for the Romanovs – lest anyone think I know what I’m talking about, though, this doesn’t extend to doing any studying or proper research, it just means I get a bit excited when any Romanov-related stuff crops up on tv. Add that to my general love of shiny things, and this type of bauble is manna to me.
It would seem that I’m not alone in that, however, since it’s also of great interest to a couple of stereotypically taciturn Russian goons who kidnap Hooten, and beat him up a bit in preparation to Lady Alex’s university classmate and nemesis (given how irritating she is just now, I can imagine Lady Alex was even more annoying at uni, but a handbag-sized crossbow is maybe taking things too far) to tease/torture him for egg-related info in that apparently titillating tv show kind of way that I’m fairly sure doesn’t happen all that often in real-life torture situations, but what would I know, not being a slinky tv villainess or indeed any other kind of villainess at all?
Of course, Alex, without any idea what the potential booty might be, nonetheless drops everything to hurtle across Europe when Hooten calls, only to be rewarded with a different kind of booty – how many times is that Michael Landes has been naked in this show now? – which she rescues and promptly covers up in a reindeer onesie because somebody thought we needed a Rudolf joke (a good one, admittedly) in October. Righto.
Anyway, modesty just about restored, if a little snugly so, it’s time to have our first real fight. As Alex carps about being dragged away from her (endless, dull, stupid) wedding prep to chase after a myth, poor Hooten, having already endured an afternoon of beating and mortification, and not entirely comfortable in the reindeer onesie, finally loses his temper and tells her the blindingly obvious: “Sweetheart…. you’d have dropped everything for a $10 snowglobe, because the truth is you don’t really want to get married.” So THERE.
Landes and Ophelia Lovibond are terrific in the awkwardness that follows; he knows he’s right but also knows he’s gone too far; she knows he’s right but hates that he is. There’s talk of parting ways right then, but of course, they don’t – they still have to be pursued through the forest by said goons, crash a wedding, find a very special cleaning lady, and fall out properly, because, in addition to being infuriating, Alex has an entirely one-track mind, and it’s not the fun kind of track either; her idea of expressing compassion and sympathy boils down to “Sorry about your dead pal, guys, but THINK HOW MUCH THIS SHINY THING WILL PLEASE THE MUSEUM!”
I’m not sure we can wholly blame Hooten for throwing the cursed egg into the sea after that.
Not that Alex leaves it there, of course (see above re: mind, one-track). After a frankly bizarre conversation with Clive, her BOSS, who allows his ADULT employee’s MOTHER to tell him how to run his team, she spits out some nonsense about being tired of being a good girl – the idea that she’s a good girl being news to both Clive and me since she’s pretty much done the opposite of every thing she’s been asked to do since the beginning of the season – retrieves the egg and has a good cry. Hooten, meanwhile, has an old, deadly, and apparently resurrected enemy to worry about, and the show, all of a sudden, has a Big Bad, an overarching, tragic mystery and a significantly darker underbelly than I thought. Is that a good thing? I don’t know, but I guess we’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.